Alexander Graham Bell's oft-quoted comment “When one door
closes, another opens” could be David Porter's motto because of the unexpected
career trajectory that led him to start a travel business.
Porter and his wife, Carol, had long planned to retire and
travel when he turned 50. When the big birthday came along, they sold their
mortgage business in Michigan, downsized to a smaller house in Arizona and set
off to see the world. That was in 2006.
The couple had barely made a dent in their bucket list of
places to visit when the stock market crashed in 2008. Suddenly, they had to
rethink their early retirement.
“We had to do something different, or we were going to run
out of money. And, running out of money when you're 75 is not a good idea,”
By this time, the couple was hooked on travel. They also had
realized they were not alone: fellow baby boomers were planning to spend much
of their retirement years on the road.
The Porters started a website and blog, the Roaming Boomers,
shooting videos and writing about their travels. They quickly got thousands of
visitors, boosted by their active approach to social media, as boomers thirsty
for travel information found them online. “They were asking us 'can we go with
you? Can you help us plan our travel'?”
Today, the couple operates the Roaming Boomers travel agency
from their home office in Scottsdale. They are affiliated with a host agency,
Cadence Travel of La Jolla, Calif., a Virtuoso member.
“We've got a year
under our belt, and we're starting to see a consistent income flow. Our
objective is to get relatively stable and add a staff person. Then we can get
back out and travel.”
Most of their customers are coming via referrals and the
website. The Porters also issue a regular newsletter that reaches 4,000
subscribers each month.
They are focusing on a few specialties, but their top
revenue generator is river cruises, ideal for their demographic market, he
said. “River boats are positioning themselves well and are such a nice
experience for people who don't have interest in going to a casino or putting
on a tux.”
Porter says there are similarities with his previous work in
the mortgage business. “As an entrepreneur, owning one business is very similar
o another. The only thing that is different is the end product. In mortgage, people
came to us for our advice; it's the same thing here. People want to travel,
and, at the end of the day, when you boil it down, they are looking for advice
and are looking for someone they can trust. To earn their trust, that's the
He added: “I'm now 58 years old. It's been difficult to
start over again, but it's something we absolutely love. People in the mortgage
business think I'm insane because there's more financial gain there. It's not
my goal to have the world's largest travel agency but to build a nice database
of clients and have what I call a lifestyle business, rather than out
conquering the world like I wanted to do 30 years ago.”